Title: Price Check
Director: Michael Walker (‘Chasing Sleep’)
Starring: Parker Posey, Eric Mabius (TV’s ‘Ugly Betty,’ ‘Resident Evil’) and Annie Parisse (‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,’ ‘National Treasure’)
People often strive to find the right balance between having a successful, meaning career that makes them happy and being able to provide for, and spend time with, their families. This is certainly the case with thirty-something Pete Cozy, who is still aspiring to make it in the music business, while working for a supermarket chain so that he can provide for his family, in the new comedy-drama ‘Price Check.’ When his new boss challenges his beliefs and views, Pete comes to realize that the life he truly wants may just be the one he has now.
‘Price Check’ follows Pete (played by Eric Mabius), who has found himself a house in the suburbs of New York and a job in the pricing department of a middling supermarket chain. Pete’s job allows him to spend quality time with his wife, Sara (portrayed by Annie Parisse) and young son, Henry (played by Finn Donoghue) and they appear happy, despite the fact they’re drowning in debt.
Everything changes for Pete when he gets a new boss, the beautiful, high-powered Susan Felders (portrayed by Parker Posey). With Susan’s influence, Pete finds himself on the executive track, which surprises and excites him. While his salary increases, he also has to spend more time with Susan at work, however. His personal relationship with his new boss subsequently crosses the line of professional etiquette. Their growing relationship creates tension in the store and his personal home life.
Filmmaker Michael Walker, who penned, helmed and released the independent comedy-drama 12 years after making his feature film writing and directorial debut with the horror mystery thriller ‘Chasing Sleep,’ showed his versatility as a storyteller with ‘Price Check.’ Even with an 18-day shoot on a limited budget, the film effortlessly shows Pete realistically struggling with his need to provide for his family and his desire to return to working in the music business. Like many people, Pete still holds onto his longing to find success and acceptance in his chosen profession, specifically starting and running a record company. But with Sara’s constant reminding that he has to take care of their family, Pete accepts Susan’s offer of taking on more responsibilities, subconsciously knowing that this can be the way he can provide a good life for Henry.
Mabius skillfully switches Pete’s personality between the times he’s with his family in their home and while he’s working, and becoming socially involved, with Susan. The actor portrays Pete feeling defensive and self-justifying when he’s discussing his family’s financial difficulties at home with Sara, to increasingly confident when he’s at work with Susan. Pete believes that his personal relationship with Susan can excuse him from being a responsible true leader at times. He believes he can get away with whatever he wants, and not always take his job seriously, just because she’s romantically interested in him.
Not only does Pete’s mentality wreck havoc on his personal and professional lives with those closest to him, it also makes him question his own moral values, and how they’ve changed since he was in college. He undergoes a revelation that his career isn’t the only thing that he should be concerned with now, as he also has to consider Henry’s needs and wants, as well. While most people don’t resort to having an affair with their bosses when they realize their career isn’t going the way they want, and they can’t just solely focus on their own needs anymore, Pete does represent the true transition people experience into adulthood. He comes to realize that he has to take responsibility for his actions, as they do affect those around him.
While the majority of ‘Price Check’ focuses on Pete reflecting on whether he should do what makes him happy or what’s most practical and beneficial to his family, cinematographer Sam Chase’s camera work further emphasizes the character’s questioning of his life choices. Chase uses clever tricks, from constantly shooting Pete’s work building from a low angle, to emphasize that he still needs to work his way up in the supermarket chain, to using close-up shots of Pete and Sara in their home to make it feel as though their world is closing in on them, to shows Pete’s continuous struggles. The camera constantly suggests to viewers that Pete is stessed over his life choices, and his feeling of losing control over where his future with his family and career are going.
While ‘Price Check’ doesn’t introduce a new or shocking view on family life, the comedy-drama does give an insightful look into the struggles and feelings of despair Pete is feeling over not having the career he wants. He readily accepts Susan’s offer of a promotion to validate his feelings of being needed and trusted, but in the end, the new job only strains his relationships with his family even more. With the help of clever camera tricks, Mabius realistically calls into question what direction people should lead their lives as they become older, and shows they have to take other people’s needs and feelings into consideration.
Written by: Karen Benardello